Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Legal Research Quick Reference Guide


Research Methodology

Step 1:  Preliminary Analysis

  • Analyze the relevant facts (who, what, where, when) and identify the relevant area(s) of law, jurisdiction(s), issue(s) to be researched, and key legal and factual terms

Step 2:  Secondary Source(s) Research

Step 3:  Locate and Analyze Primary Law

  • Examine citations from relevant secondary sources and/or cases
  • Consult annotations (e.g. notes of decisions) in statutory/regulatory codes
  • Conduct full-text searches of primary law sources (Natural Language or Terms & Connectors)
  • Search by headnote topic(s) / key number(s)
  • Use citator(s) (e.g., Shepard's, KeyCite) to expand your research

Step 4:  Update your research

  • Use citator(s) (e.g., Shepard's, KeyCite) to check the validity of your primary law sources

Step 5:  Conclude your research

  • Check for thoroughness
  • May need to go back and repeat certain steps if you have uncovered new issues or facts